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High School Coach of the Week: Mark Sampson


At the end of every football game, Cripple Creek-Victor coach Mark Sampson has his players go to the sidelines to thank their parents, family and friends for coming out and watching them play, no matter the outcome. "It's a little, 'Hey mom, hey dad, I gave you everything I got,' kind of moment with gratitude," Sampson said. Coach Sam is in his second year of head coaching, although he's been around Colorado as an assistant since 1999. Cripple Creek-Victor hadn't won an on-field game since Oct. 30, 2010. But last Friday, Coach Sam and the Pioneers snapped a 35-game losing streak with a 65-31 win over Colorado Deaf & Blind. Week 2's Denver Broncos coach of the week is Coach Sam: a man who has persevered through his own struggles and dedicated his coaching career to helping others persevere through their own adversities.

Mark Sampson
Years coaching: Two (1-10 overall)
Years at Cripple Creek-Victor: Two
Previous stops: Woodland Park assistant (1999-2000), Harrison assistant (2001-2003; 2006-2008), Sierra assistant (2008-2012)

Question: Why do you coach?
At the age of 14 I lived on the streets of New York, and I didn't have a mother or father. I sometimes ate out of dumpsters and slept in a box or broke into the local teen center, and I put myself through high school knowing that to get somewhere in life, I had to have an education. Had it not been for a coach and shop teacher, I'd probably be in jail or dead. You have to give back, and I run into these types of kids every day. I coach for the opportunity to work with kids and teach them about sports and life; how to do the right thing and helping them believe in themselves and their abilities.

Q: Why do you coach the way you do?
I've been around coaches all of my life and most good coaches will learn from others on the right way to be and motivate others. I've been blessed to know quite a few great coaches in my lifetime and I emulate them. I do the right things for the kids.

Q: What it's like to be coached by you?
I've never thought about it from that end. I believe we must be there for our youth. We are role models. Last week I got an email from a kid I taught four years ago and he thanked me for everything I'd done for him. My assistant coach also used to be my JV quarterback at Harrison, and some of my Woodland Park guys are still some of my best friends. I think that's what a coach is supposed to do.

Q: How do you define success in coaching?
It's not in the wins and losses column, actually. It's making people understand once they've given 100 percent, they've given everything they've got, and that's success. The end result comes in wins and losses, but that doesn't determine success.

Q: What's your most meaningful experience with a team or a player?
I'll be brutally honest, I've got so many of them. I think when kids call me after 10-15 years telling me what an effect I had on them.

Q: You snapped a 35-game losing streak last week. Can you describe how you felt that entire game, from kickoff to shaking your opponents' hands?
I've worked really hard with these kids and I felt like they were at the point where they could win. The week before we lost to a pretty good team by three points. I told my guys that they needed to understand to be humble because they had been on the losing side before.

Q: How did you celebrate the program's first win since 2011?
At the end, and it was looking obvious, I got the ol' water cooler on my head. We're not finished, good lord, we have six more games to win! So we can prove to people it wasn't just a fluke.

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